AU and the Question of Somaliland Recognition

By Mohamed Yussuf

It is now thirty years since Somaliland declared its separation from Somalia but the population still wonders why it is taking so long for this former British protectorate to be recognized.

We know that foreign recognition is a challenge but we are not aware of the parties other than Somalia that are the stumbling stone in this regard.

Frontline countries appear to have been pacified given the latest interactions with Somaliland officials. The most relevant regional organization in the issue is the AU and they had their say back in 2005 when they sent the fact-finding mission and said in their conclusion that Somaliland was “unique and self-justified in African political history”.

In the Cairo resolution regarding African Borders in 1964 this was agreed upon:
AHG/Res. 16(I) BORDER DISPUTES AMONG AFRICAN STATES
The assembly of Heads of State and Government meeting in its First Ordinary Session in Cairo, UAR, from 17 to 21 July 1964:

Considering that border problems constitute a grave and permanent factor of dissension;
Conscious of the existence of extra-African manoeuvres aimed at dividing the African States;
Considering further that the borders of African States, on the day of their independence, constitute a tangible reality;
Recalling the establishment in the course of the Second Ordinary Session of the Council of the Committee of Eleven charged with studying further measures for strengthening African Unity;
Recognizing the imperious necessity of settling, by peaceful means and within a strictly African framework, all disputes between the African States;
Recalling further that all Member States have pledged, under Article IV of the Charter of African Unity, to respect scrupulously all principles laid down in paragraph 3 of Article III of the Charter of the Organization of African Unity:
1. SOLEMNLY REAFFIRMS the strict respect by all Member States of the Organization for the principles laid down in paragraph 3 of Article III of the Charter of the Organization of African Unity;
2. SOLEMNLY DECLARES that all Member States pledge themselves to respect the borders existing on their achievement of national independence.
It is worth noting that Egypt on the day of this resolution was the UAR which stood for United Arab Republic and constituted Egypt and Syria.

That union did not live a year after that declaration.

Read: resolutions adopted by the first AU ordinary session of the assembly of heads of state and government held in Cairo

We know that Somaliland’s Independence Day was the 26 of June 1960 and their borders back then are not disputable.

We also know that Somalia took independence on 1st of July 1960 and their borders back then are clear.

The two sides went into a union which is not hitherto supported by an act of union duly signed by the two sides.

Mohamed YussufIn the backdrop of all the foregoing one is left with mindboggling questions like where are we inadequate in our engagement with the issue.

Are we up against a legal point?

Are we poor in our political establishment and diplomatic manoeuvres?

Are we the hostage of external powers imposing their view on us and why?

Are we held up by the frontline countries who find their well-being in our limbo situation?

 

Mohamed Yussuf is a Somalilander freelance writer living in Saudi Arabia.

 

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